Monday, March 10, 2008

First Robert Johnson Fellow in Residence


Heidi Kumao, a multi-disciplinary artist who works with electronics, digital media and kinetic sculpture, has been selected as the first recipient of the Robert Johnson Endowed Fellowship. Initiated in honor of long-time and beloved VCCA staff member Robert Johnson, who died in 2006, this fellowship will fund a two-week residency for a highly qualified applicant each year.

For three decades, Robert was the faithful face of the VCCA, serving up a unique blend of wit and charm in the kitchen, and transporting Fellows at all hours of the day and night, always cheerfully and always on time.

In addition to the fellowship, initiated by the VCCA Fellows Council, the VCCA placed a bench with a plaque sheltered by a flowering tree, on the VCCA grounds.

Currently in residence, Heidi is working on a series of sculptural portraits, contained in bell jars or other containers, brought to life through video projection and kinetics.

She creates video and machine art to explore ordinary social interactions and their psychological undercurrents. Emerging from the intersection of sculpture, theater and engineering, her “performative technologies” generate artistic spectacle in order to visualize the unseen: psychological states, emotions, compulsions, thinking patterns, and dreams. These works are designed to re-enact an event, perform a task for the viewer, or mediate her roles as a woman. Through the creation of kinetic and electronic sculpture, interactive installations and digital animations, she seeks to heighten awareness of our everyday experiences such as childhood play, family dynamics, television news, and even the wearing of clothes.

She has exhibited her work nationally and internationally in group and solo exhibitions including one-person exhibitions at the Museo de Arte Moderno, Buenos Aires, Fundació Joan Miró, Barcelona, and Center for the Arts, Yerba Buena Gardens, San Francisco. Group exhibitions include “ZeroOne San Jose and ISEA 2006: A global Festival of Art on the Edge” in San Jose, California, “Brides of Frankenstein” at the San Jose Museum of Art, and shows at the National Academy Museum (NYC), Galeria Vermelho (Sao Paulo, Brazil), Exit Art (NYC), and the International Center for Photography (NYC).

She is currently an Assistant Professor in the School of Art and Design at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor where she teaches animation, video, experimental television production, and electronic and conceptual art. For 2007-08, she has been awarded a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from the American Association of University Women Educational Foundation.

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